Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I Want Names

One of my daily blogs has been discussing an event that took place in Washington yesterday. Wisconsin Representative James Sensenbrenner, House Judiciary Committee Chairman, closed down committee debate and witness testimony covering the move to renew the Patriot Act. After he closed the hearing and walked out, some Democrats and witnesses continued to speak. This event was captured by C-SPAN 2. A couple of videos from C-SPAN appear on this website:
While it is troubling enough to see debate on this issue terminated on the basis that it was critical to the Bush administration, it was equally troubling to me to hear Chairman Sensenbrenner call for a list of names of the librarians who have said they have been asked for library records by police. Although I am in no position to judge, this seems a bit (one-upon-a-time Wisconsin Senator and Commie-hunter) Joe McCarthy-ish to me. If I am not mistaken, doesn't the Patriot Act stipulate that librarians are not to disclose such requests? Is Chairman Sensenbrenner's interest in these names related to a genuine interest in finding if Patriot Act powers are being misused, or is he on a witch hunt, looking to punish librarians who have violated the code for secrecy?
Why is it so common in conservative circles to shut off critical analysis of the Bush Administration, or critical analysis of anything else that conservatives are debating, for that matter? I have heard it done on conservative talk radio for years. I have personally experienced it right here in the blogosphere. Is there something about the conservative argument that won't stand up to the light of critical analysis? Is that the problem? Is it true that the emperor has no clothes and therefore we the people are not supposed to be looking at him?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Turning Back the Hands of Time

In one of the blogs that I read daily, I found this link to a Creationist website:
and this quote:
"You see, no matter what is found, or how embarrassing it is to evolutionists' ideas, they will always be able to concoct an 'answer' because evolution is a belief. It is not science—it is not fact!"
If this isn't a reality inversion, I sure would love to know what is...
But in any case, it is interesting that some presumably educated people on this planet really do still believe that the earth and all of the universe were created about 6,000 years ago and that all of the fossil record is attributable to that time frame.
This seems to add credence to the Buddhist theory that we create our own reality.
But in fact, what it really does is it turns back the hands of time to an era when nobody had any evidence that conclusively challenged the literal interpretation of the Bible. It dismisses without comment all of the scientific time clocks. And it does this for only one reason, to invalidate any claim that the Bible is not meant to be read in any other way than literally.
Go for it, you good Christians, you sons and daughters of God. Have your own separate reality. Enjoy yourselves. Worship your holy scripture. But count me out.
Leave me in the one reality that matters, the reality that is the true God. Study all your delusional Pharisees, your gods of knowledge, but be content to keep all of your illusions to yourselves, please. Keep your church separate from our state. Take your churches back in time, but let our nation advance if we so choose. Please? Allow the truth to present itself.
In other news...

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Still Plagued

I am still plagued by a lack of understanding of the duality of standards in conservative political thinking. The book I'm reading, Moral Politics, although very insightful, isn't helping me out very much when it comes to this Machiavellian duality.
Machiavellian: 2. being or acting in accordance with the principles of government analyzed in Machiavelli's The Prince, in which political expediency is placed above morality and the use of craft and deceit to maintain the authority and carry out the policies of a ruler is described
The problem with the book Moral Politics is that it sticks to the appearance of "morality" in conservative politics rather than dealing with the reality of the situation, the reality that conservative politics today is just smoke and mirrors, Machiavellian illusion. But maybe the immoral nature of conservative politics isn't something that was readily discernible when Moral Politics was written? I'm asking, not saying. Except for those who have their heads buried deep in the sand of denial, the question of the true nature of present-day conservative political leaders is increasingly becoming a part of our perception of current events. The DeLay issue is a prime example, but so was the Guckert/Gannon thing and Spokane's gay-tending gay-bashing non gay-basher mayor. There were Republican leaders haranguing about the Terri Shiavo issue who had pulled the plug on members of their own family. There's even a question of the sexual preference of the leader of the Republican party. And really now, how many Republicans have relied on abortion when there was a real need? Are we to seriously believe that only liberals have abortions?
It dawned on me today that in light of our acceptance of the pedaphilic sexual predator disgrace within the Catholic Church as well as the cover-up of homosexuality within the Republican party, perhaps the real disgrace in the Clinton/Lewinski issue wasn't the possibility that there was illicit sex in the White House, but rather the fact that it involved a woman! Maybe if you're going to do it in the White House, you should have some higher motive than simply male dominance over women, like maybe for instance male dominance over upcoming male Republicans? Granted, I'm merely speculating, not stating any known facts...
But there is this duality that seems to pervade the ruling party in Washington. There is the reality of what is going on, but that reality is to be strictly kept beneath a wall of lies. It is the lies that maintain the appearance of conservative moral uprightness. It's like a ship that's heavier than the water it would displace and is being kept afloat because it is in motion through the water. The truth, if it were to ever surface, is that if momentum were to be lost, the ship would almost certainly sink.
It was the Reagan presidency that gave Republican politics its momentum. Reagan somehow convinced a bunch of us that conservative politics was moral. During and since Reagan, corrupt men have ridden the wake generated by this Reagan illusion. During Reagan there was Iran/Contra. There was Ollie North and the ever innocent George Bush. There was the CIA and their secret illegal activity in Central America. But since Reagan, there has been a parade of corporate-sponsored political swindlers marching to Washington under the banner of moral Republican conservatism. Real Republicans are cowering in the corner trying to figure out how to put an end to this trend, but there is so much momentum from the Reagan era, these real Republicans are powerless to stop it. They realize that if they did manage to stop it, the ship would surely sink from its own weight.
But the thing is, the ship deserves to sink. It doesn't deserve to float. The ship's cargo isn't real morality, it's only power. It's this power that creates an illusion of morality and that illusion doesn't deserve to survive in America. Truth is what deserves to survive. The illusion of conservative supremacy has us on course for a shipwreck.
What plagues me is why so many of us want to be passengers on that ship. Why are we better off to ride on illusion rather than to stand on the shore and observe truth?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Self Righteousness

On page 59 of the book Moral Politics, by George Lakoff (1996, 2002), in a chapter that parallels the language of morality with accounting terminology, three paragraphs subtitled "Self Righteousness" seemed to me to be dropped into the dialog. I quote:

A self-righteous person is someone who carefully keeps his own moral ledger books, who makes sure that, according to his own system of moral accounting, his credits always outweigh his debits. A thoroughly self-righteous person knows neither shame nor gratitude, since he has no moral debts, again according to his own method of accounting.
There are three things that make him not righteous but self-righteous. The first is that he recognizes no moral values other than his own as valid. The second is that he keeps his own books. There is no external auditing. And the third is that he must communicate his moral standing to his interlocutors.
The self-righteous person's superfluity of moral credit is the basis of his discourse. He presupposes his own moral values and his own righteousness as a condition of conversation. The effect of this is that anyone talking to a self-righteous person must either agree with his moral values and act equally self-righteous, or face being put in a morally inferior position in the discourse. This is what makes self-righteous people particularly infuriating to talk to.

First, I have to look up two words here:
Interlocutors: A person taking part in a conversation or dialog.
Superfluity: The state or quality of being excessive, unnecessary, irrelevant.
While I would tend to say that there is self-righteousness in all of us, we all tend to balance the books of our own morality using our own system of values rather than using a common set of values, I think we all have known the feeling of "being put in a morally inferior position" when we hear some people talk. Rush Limbaugh comes to mind here, but so does Dr. James Dobson. In my own personal experience, the group who seem to have best mastered this particular skill are the fundamentalist religious people. If you want to encounter seriously self-righteous people, attend a fundamentalist church.
But the baffling part about that is that the extreme self-righteous don't credit their system of values to themselves at all. They attribute their values to a higher order. Self-righteous Christians attribute their values to the Bible. So how does this idea that the self-righteous person "carefully keeps his own moral ledger books" fit this model of the religiously self-righteous?
This is something I have been wondering about long before encountering this particular passage. I welcome any comments.